A judge set bail at $1 million yesterday for Susan M. Fila, the Baltimore attorney charged with plotting a stabbing attack on bTC her law partner, as details began to emerge about her previous drug-related brushes with the law.
In denying a request from prosecutors that Ms. Fila and her alleged accomplice in the attack on lawyer Charles Lamasa be held without bail, Judge John M. Glynn agreed that the charges are "troublesome in every regard" but that "I think they have the right to a reasonable bail."
Afterward, Mr. Lamasa, who attended the hearing, said, "On the bail, I don't have any complaints. I was concerned, but I think it was adequate." He added, "I am fearful, but I prefer not to make any other comment."
Judge Glynn set bail at $500,000 for Ms. Fila's co-defendant, Tamme Lynn Newton. Authorities say Ms. Newton, 35, supplied heroin to Ms. Fila and then allegedly tried to stab Mr. Lamasa to death at her behest.
Ms. Fila, a 42-year-old medical malpractice specialist who graduated with honors from law school, had a $500- to $600-a-day heroin habit, her lawyer, Gregg L. Bernstein, said yesterday. Mr. Bernstein would not say exactly how long his client has been addicted, but her involvement in drugs apparently goes back to at least 1977, when she was indicted on charges of conspiring to distribute Mexican heroin in Maryland.
Ms. Fila received probation in federal court for that offense, Mr. Bernstein said at yesterday's court hearing. Court records show she also was arrested last summer in West Baltimore and charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia.
In that case, a city police sergeant received a tip that a woman was buying heroin in a house in the 1500 block of W. Fayette St., the same block where Ms. Newton has lived for more than five years. A subsequent search of Ms. Fila's car turned up a plastic bag with nine capsules of suspected heroin and a pouch containing 24 syringes, according to court records. The case was placed on the inactive docket in November.
Police said Ms. Fila plotted to kill Mr. Lamasa because she was afraid he was going to discover the embezzlement of at least $10,000 from the firm. The downtown firm of Lamasa & Fila was formed about 18 months ago.
Mr. Lamasa was stabbed five times after he got into a car with Ms. Fila in front of their law firm on the evening of April 14, police said. The assailant, originally reported to be a man, was hiding in the back seat of the car. Despite being wounded in the head, back, neck and chest, Mr. Lamasa wrested the knife from the attacker and demanded to be taken to the hospital.
Prosecutor Mark Cohen told the court that Ms. Fila drove past at least two hospitals before Ms. Newton got behind the wheel and drove Mr. Lamasa to Sinai Hospital in Northwest Baltimore. Mr. Cohen said Ms. Fila called Ms. Newton several days later to criticize her for taking Mr. Lamasa to the hospital.
The prosecutor portrayed Ms. Fila as someone capable of devising schemes that, if successful, might not easily be traced to her.
Ms. Fila and Ms. Newton are both charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Ms. Fila, who lives with her parents in Ellicott City, is also charged with felony theft.
Judge Glynn ordered that Ms. Fila have no contact with Mr. Lamasa if she makes bail and that she receive drug treatment and report regularly to state pretrial services officials.
Ms. Fila said nothing during the hearing.
In 1977, she was among 11 suspects charged with conspiring to import heroin from Mexico through Southern California and mailing the drugs to Maryland, where they were sold.